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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zimbabwe Raids Opposition Party's Offices

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Riot police in Zimbabwe raided the headquarters of the main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, arresting dozens of supporters, a spokesman said.

Party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said nearly 200 supporters had been seized in the Saturday raid on the party's headquarters in central Harare.

He said in a telephone interview that three truckloads of riot police arrived at the headquarters around midday. The police broke up a "routine meeting" called by the party ahead of next year's crucial presidential and parliamentary polls, Chamisa said.

There was no immediate word from the government.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government embarked on a fierce clampdown on the opposition in March, worried that the country's fast-deteriorating economic crisis could spark an uprising.

Since then hundreds of opposition party supporters have been arrested and dozens beaten, including main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Most recently, police arrested and assaulted defense lawyers acting on behalf of opposition members.

South African President Thabo Mbeki is heading an initiative to bring the Mugabe government and the opposition to the negotiating table, but there have been few signs of success so far.